May 28, 2009

Put an End to Candy Color Equality

I like to eat fruity candy, but not all the flavors. I can't possibly be the only one who feels this way, and I'm willing to bet that many people prefer the same flavors as I do. I bet they are also willing to do without the flavors that are less exciting. As an example, the "red" or cherry flavors are often the best ones, right? And who really likes the "orange" ones all that much? I'm not saying that orange sucks, but they are probably pretty low on the list, right?

It seems to me that everyone likes the red ones best, whether it's Skittles, Starbursts, gummy bears, etc. When you reach into the bag, I bet you are hoping to pull out a red one... and then you pull out a yellow one. Tell me that you're not disappointed.

The red and pink ones (of anything) are usually the best, and the orange and yellows are usually the least favorite. I'm on the fence about green ones – I can take 'em or leave 'em. So, if this is the case, and the majority of people feel the way I do (and I bet that they do), then why don't the candy companies just make bags containing ALL red ones?!

Wouldn't that be a big seller? Imagine a roll of pure cherry and strawberry Starbursts or a bag of all red Skittles. Tell me you wouldn't buy that and leave all the crappy orange, yellow and green ones behind! We, the consuming public, don't need candy color variety. I doubt there is anyone out there that wishes they had a bag full of all green Skittles. These candy companies should survey their customers, and I'm sure they would find that the great majority like one or two flavors and probably don't care too much for the rest.

Instead of making a candy containing only one or two good flavors, they come out with new-fangled creations like "Tropical" (there is always too much banana in the mix) or "Sour" (can they really be better than Sour Patch Kids?). Mike & Ike alone has a million different flavors these days (Original, Jolly Joes, Berry Blast, Lemonade, Tangy Twister, Tropical Typhoon and Zours) - it's like they are desperate to find another hit flavor after launching the Original. All they have to do is come up with the radical new idea of just making an all cherry-flavored packet of Mike & Ike! Not only would it out sell Tropical Typhoon, but it might out sell the Original, too! Candy flavors are not people – we don't have to treat them all equally. It's about time we started using prejudice in our favor and only get the flavors we really want.

*** This just in!... Starburst is coming out with a NEW set of flavors called "Favereds", which is "your favorite red Starburst flavors in one packet -- strawberry, fruit punch, watermelon and cherry." Not EXACTLY what I want, but at least they are getting close! Once again, your Minister of Common Sense is hard at work for you!

May 21, 2009

My Kind of Airport Security

You may wonder what the Minister of Common Sense does all day to make your lives better. My answer is, "A lot!" And, finally, my voice is being heard. I have long railed against stupidity in airport security, and the TSA is starting to listen. To my great surprise and pleasure, I recently went through a major airport where the security lines were segregated into lanes for different types of travelers. Welcome back, Plessy v. Ferguson!

I have been very vocal about establishing a special lane for "expert" travelers - people who know all the rules by heart, never set off the metal detector... basically people who know what the hell they are doing. Well, this airport has a special security line designated as the "Family Lane" for parents saddled with kids, babies, strollers, a million bags of baby crap... basically all the ingredients that create multiple failures in effectively getting through an airport security line. This is a brilliant idea - corral all the people that you would otherwise roll your eyes at when they are in front of you in the security line, and put them all together so they can be by themselves as they constantly set off the metal detector, repeatedly violate the no-liquids rule, fail to figure out how to collapse their strollers fully, spend 10 minutes taking off their toddlers' shoes, etc. When you group these people together and compound all their failures, there is no way that any of them are ever going to make their flight, which is fine because none of us really want children on the planes away.

In addition to removing families from the mainstream security lines, the airport also has "Diamond Select" lines. There was the Green Diamond for beginning travelers (people who have never been on the "magical flying machine" before), Blue Diamond for more experienced travelers (people who think they know what they are doing, but really don't), and Black Diamond for experts (people like me or, as I like to call them, the "good people"). I like that they use the word "expert" instead of "experienced". Lots of people might think they are experienced, but if you are going to raise you hand and say you are an expert in something, you better damn well be a real expert.

I can't ski the bunny slopes, but I rode the double-black diamond airport security line like a champ. You should have seen all of us - people's laptops were flying out of their bag at the speed of light, perfect separation of 3-oz liquids in regulation-sized clear plastic bags, no metal detector failures, security personnel not shouting the rules over and over again because we already knew them... it was a beautiful, seamless symphony of airport travel.

Because we designated ourselves as "experts", everyone tried extra hard to be really fast and perfect. I was eagerly awaiting for someone to crack under the pressure and mess up, just so I could see them dragged away by security, screaming and cry
ing, and taken to the beginners' Green Diamond line! Or better yet... punish them by sending them to the FAMILY LINE! That'll each 'em!

May 14, 2009

Handicapped Parking

Handicapped parking is getting out of control. Have you noticed just how many handicapped spots there are in parking lots these days? (By way, am I supposed to say "disabled" instead of "handicapped"? It's so hard to keep track of who's offended by what these days.) Don't get me wrong, I think that handicapped people deserve (and need) their own parking spots (after all, it's like the only perk that one receives for being handicapped). It just seems to me that there are A LOT of spots popping up for handicapped parking. Are there new laws being passed? Or are we, as a society, becoming more aware of handicap issues? Or is the U.S. population as a whole becoming more handicapped in general??

Some of these handicapped parking spots are getting ridiculous. There is this one store in my city that has TWELVE handicapped parking spots! It's not a hospital or anyplace where you might expect handicapped people to congregate... it's a liquor store! If I was handicapped, I'd probably be getting drunk every night too, but are there really THAT many handicapped people coming to THAT particular liquor store at any ONE TIME?! I'm not even sure there are twelve handicapped people in the entire city who are of the legal drinking age.

Not only does this store have way too many handicapped parking spots, but they are positioned in the worst ways possible. The store has two parking lots, one on either side, along with a few spots that line up along a driveway that connects the two parking lots to one another at the front of the store.

There are seven handicapped parking spots in the one parking lot that is closest to the front door. However, the parking spots that are actually closest to the front door are not the handicapped spots, but normal spots along the driveway, which are NOT handicapped. How does this make sense? If you're going to designate handicapped parking, then let's give them the closest spots possible, right?

In the other parking lot of this store, there are an additional five handicapped spots, but these are 220 feet away from the entrance! The second lot is much further away from the front door than the first lot, so why not just have all the handicapped parking spaces in the lot that is closest? Needless to say, no one ever parks in these five handicapped spots that are far away because: (1) there is never more than seven handicapped people at the store at the same time, so they can use all the spots in the other lot; and (2) the other lot is a helluva lot closer to the door than this lot, so who wants to roll their wheelchair 220 feet (and then 220 feet back again)? That's like a marathon to a guy in a wheelchair! In fact, if you are in a wheelchair, you would prefer to park in one of the normal spots in the other lot rather than park in the handicapped spot in the far lot, because it would still be over 100 feet closer!

I'm sure that there is some law in our city that defines these parking areas as "two separate lots" and, as a result, each lot needs to have its own dedicated handicapped parking – even though it makes absolutely no sense at all. And I'd be interested to see the city formula that mandates that this liquor store needs a total of twelve handicapped spots. I feel pretty confident that the number "twelve" is equal to the entire handicapped drinking population of our state, let alone the city, let alone the visitors to this particular store. No drunk handicapped person will be left behind!

To make matters even worse, in the far lot that is over 200 feet away, the five spots they have designated for handicapped people are not even the five closest spots in that particular lot! There are two normal spots that are actually closer (check out the map; look for the two yellow Xs - normal spots - as compared to the line of blue stars, which are the handicapped spots). Talk about adding insult to disabling injury - they don't even get the closest spots in the furthest lot!
The big yellow star on the aerial map above is the front door of the store. The blue stars near the stop are handicapped spots in the closer lot, while the vertical line of yellow Xs are the normal spots that are much closer (you can see that is the only place were cars are actually parked). The blue stars near the bottom are more handicapped spots in the far lot that is 220 feet away from the entrance. Do we really need 12 handicapped parking spots here??

I tell you, we are slowly losing all our normal parking spots. First, the handicapped spots appear to be growing in population (and growing erratically, based on the store mentioned above) – like a weed. Secondly, have you seen these "Pregnant Women" parking spots at pharmacies and supermarkets? When did this start? I will acknowledge that pregnant women shouldn't have to walk from the back of the parking lot, but I'm more concerned about the trend in general. What's next?... parking spots for mothers with babies? Parking spots for mothers with toddlers (because it's too dangerous to have a child cross the parking lot)? Parking spots for teenagers (because they are too likely to get into trouble during the walk to through the parking lot)? Parking for elderly? For the tired? For the hungover? In the end, there will only be three designated parking spots in every parking lot in the country... they will be the spots assigned to the "Able-Bodied", and they will be way in the back. Every other spot will be for someone who has some kind of "problem".

But, once again, I am all in favor of handicapped people getting their own spots – please don't get me wrong! I'm just becoming more aware of some of the poor parking planning that is going on, and the slow creep of more and more "special" spots - and just how often they are never used! But there are very few social crimes worse than parking in a handicapped spot when you are an able-bodied person. Who does that?? There are also people who abuse the system by parking in reserved spots with an old, beat-up handicapped tag hanging from their rearview mirror – clearly something they got from their doctor when they broke their leg skiing six years ago, yet they still use it. Old people also abuse the system by parking in a handicapped spot when it's pretty clear that they can still get around OK – we get it, you're old and it sucks, but don't play dumb with me or magically designate yourself as "handicapped", that's not how it works.

Sometimes I will see someone pull into a handicapped spot that looks suspicious. I won't see any tag on their rearview mirror or on their license plate, so I will wait around to watch them exit their car so I can validate their handicap. Sometimes they are all messed up (oops, my bad), but sometimes they are perfectly fine – and they happily stroll into the store! This enrages me. I know that people are basically stupid and horrible, but how do they have the audacity to do this?? Is it really that big of a deal to walk a few extra feet from a normal parking spot to the front door? Even if you had to walk from the back of a giant parking lot, are you so fat and out of shape that you can't do it? (By the way, gluttony is not a disability.) Jesus you're lazy. Do you really have to scam the system like this?

I know I just went on and on about there being perhaps too many handicapped parking spots in this country (and they all seem to go unused), but in most locations there are probably still only one or two reserved spots, and these frauds are going to take one? Just because you possess a rearview mirror tag with a blue wheelchair on it (or you’re driving your handicapped grandmother’s town car) does not mean you can park in the spot! In addition to owning the parking tag, you actually have to be handicapped! I'd like to hear from people that actually do this – what are they thinking? If I was in the movie I Am Legend, and everyone was dead from the virus except for the zombies, then I would park in the handicapped spots... but only under those circumstances.
You better be legless, rich guy!

Would you like me to fix this problem permanently? I have an idea. I think we should pass a new law that states that anyone caught parking in a handicapped parking spot that is not actually handicapped (or driving someone who is handicapped) will have to undergo a medical procedure that will MAKE them handicapped. They can opt between the removal of their left or right foot. If they need to park in that spot so badly, then let's make them really appreciate it.

Wait a minute... I use the handicapped stall in the bathroom. Is that the same thing? That's not the same thing as parking in their spot is it? Actually, maybe it's worse – a handicapped person can wait for a parking spot, they can't wait to use the bathroom (at least not indefinitely). OK, let's forget about the new law for now.

May 7, 2009

Stay Out of My Hotel Room

Doesn't it irritate you how often a total stranger comes barging into your hotel room? It seems to be a daily threat in just about any hotel, but it happens even more frequently at fancier hotels. And who are these strangers? They are the staff of the hotels themselves.

At a minimum, in just about any hotel, you have deal with the maid. Do you see how these people act? First, they knock on your door, but then they open it eight milliseconds later saying, "Housekeeping!" As a guest in the room, you have no ability to react or prevent the intrusion in that amount of time. They just barge right in!

Most of the time in a hotel room, I'm naked or thinking about masturbating or something... when suddenly the door swings open and this maid pounces in! I'm in a sheer panic as I race to grab a pair of boxers, a towel, a bathrobe – anything! At the same time, I'm shouting, "No, no! Not now!" As a paying guest of the hotel, I resent that I have to go through this terror.

And sometimes these maids will come into your room early, like 9 am. I have been in situations where I'm still asleep, and the lady comes barging in, and I'm peering up from my bed trying to give her an "are-you-fucking-kidding-me" look through the darkness. I understand that 9 am isn't the break of dawn or anything, but I think it's pretty reasonable to assume that someone could either still be sleeping or, worse yet coming out of the shower, at that time.

Of course, a way to prevent a lot of this is to liberally use the do-no-disturb sign. When they barge in on me in the morning, I always curse myself because that means that I didn't put the sign out the night before. But even if I use the sign a lot, which helps, it leads to other problems. Sometime I will have the sign out there to ensure my privacy, but then I'll order room service. And, of course, they can't knock on my door to deliver the room service, so I'll get a phone call from the front desk saying that my do-not-disturb sign is out and they are trying to deliver the room service. Then I'll remove the sign and wait for the delivery guy to come back. Of course, now the food is cold because this poor guy had to run up and down trying to solve my do-not-disturb-sign problem.

But even later in the day, after the maid has cleaned the room, your privacy is still not safe... especially at the nicer hotels. You have to contend with the mini-bar guy, who also knocks and then immediately enters. The other day, someone opened my door (without knocking) and they guy announced, "Service!" He had a ladder and needed to fix the curtain rod (which I didn't ask for, so the maid from the morning must have told them). And then there is the turndown service. So here is yet another opportunity to get barged in on while your naked, plus night time is when you are more likely to be showering and changing to go out, or taking your clothes off from the end of the day.

Just look at all these intrusions you must dodge at a fancy hotel in order to preserve your privacy: maid; mini-bar guy; turndown service... that totals a minimum of three, guaranteed, interruptions EVERY SINGLE DAY. It's brutal. And when you stay at a hotel, you never really act how you do at home – you are either on vacation, in between meetings, taking a nap, being naked, having sex, watching porn – it's not your normal routine, so you are even more likely to being caught in an embarrassing position.

I know these service people have a job to do, I would just like a little extra time to respond to a sudden knock (and before they barge in) - just so I have time to go to the door and say something like, "Go away."

And when these people come in, and they see you, they always act so surprised that you are there. I want to tell them to cut the act – what did they expect to see when they bounded into an occupied room with no real notice?

So, the do-not-disturb sign is my best friend, except for when I'm waiting for room service. I leave that thing on 24/7. I mean, they give me enough towels so that I don't need more. I don't need them to make my bed, because I'm just going to get into it again. I don't need them to check on the mini-bar, because I don't want to pay for what I've eaten/drank. I don't need them to fold down my sheets for turndown service (and I don't need the chocolates that they leave, because I’ve already taken chocolate out of the mini bar that I'm not paying for).

The biggest problem with leaving the do-not-disturb sign on all the time, is that the fancier places will make it a point to call your room and ask if you want maid service, etc. So then I get 15 annoying phone calls which pisses me off, too.

At least it all of this makes me missing being at home.